Author's Notes: Mini fic!! Inspiration flew into my head one day during pre-calc, so of course I had to write it then and there (and completely missed the notes, but borrowed them from a friend, so it all worked out in the end!) The only trouble I had with this fic was, sadly, thinking up a title. Which is why the one for it currently is so utterly lame. If I think of a better title (or someone else can!) I shall change it.

Disclaimer: Do not own. Don't sue me.

Summary: They were all breaking the rules but no one seemed to care. She was not surprised. After all, they were burying their Hokage today.

Enjoy.


Influence

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Looking around, Sakura noted that, despite the fact that ninja were never to show emotion, never to shed tear, there was not a set of eyes in the entire audience that was not red-rimmed or swollen or shimmering with mournful, unshed tears. They were all breaking the rules but no one seemed to care.

She was not surprised. After all, they were burying their Hokage today.

She recalled some of her first memories of the Hokage, how truly awful those first impressions and thoughts were, terribly off base. A Hokage was someone who never let their poeple down, who guided with a gentle but firm hand and influened villagers to be better than the previous generation. That of the Village Hidden in the Leaves had never let the people down in the slightest, continuing to affect them even in death and for decades to come.

Sakura let a tear slide defiantly down her cheek, not bothering to wipe it away before it was noticed. No, she‛d wear the tear as a badge of her undying loyalty to the incredible person who had made her better and showed her so much in the time they knew each other.

Gently squeezing the hand of the statue-still man next to her, she stepped forward, taking center stage. She breathed deeply and closed her eyes before adressing the crowd. "Losing one so dear, so truly caring and good, is never easy, and this blow to our village is immense. Our Hokage believed in this village with every fiber of being possessed."

She paused, looking down at the body coffin-encased in front of her. Oh Naruto, she thought sadly, I can‛t believe this, I just can‛t. But I‛ll do my best for this village. I will. Even in death, a mature but nonetheless mischievious smirk graced his lips. She liked that.

"At one point or another, most of this village would fall under the category of those who doubted Naruto because he was chosen as the vessel for the kyuubi. He was hated for it, always put down time and again, but he never gave up. Refused is probably more accurate of a word. He turned the hate around until it made him better. He rose through the ranks of shinobi and commanded our attention and respect until no one could deny him. He was the best shinobi this village has ever seen or produced. Truly his father‛s son." She smiled slightly, recalling the memory of the drunk Tsunade letting that little tidbit of information slip.

Sakura‛s eyes drifted downward again to the inert man before her. Her heart ached for him in a way that it had never had for anyone else, not even Sasuke. Her love for the blond had come far too late; he had already moved on by the time she‛d realized it.

The healer‛s eyes rose again to the sea of black before her, searching the distance until she saw what she was seeking, someone she was unsurprised to see. Leaning against a tree a good three miles in the distance stood the third and final member of the original team 7. She smiled with a certain degree of melancholy. Oh Sasuke, we‛re both far too late.

Another deep breath was taken before she continued. "He died the very way he‛d always wanted to, defending this village and everyone in it. Naruto touched the lives of everyone he‛s ever encountered, whether they wanted him to or not. His power of friendship was undeniable and unparalled, just as his smile was inescapably infectuous."

She gazed around at the people who had been closest to him; Kiba, Hinata, Shino, Neji, TenTen, Lee, Gai-sensei who stood to next to his constant rival and probable best friend Kakashi, who held the pale Iruka, Sai, Shikamaru, Ino, Choji, Yamato, Konahamaru and his teammates. With them stood the three siblings of the sand, Temari, holding her husband‛s, Shikamaru, hand, Kankuro, and the Kazekage of the Village Hidden in the Sand, Gaara, perhaps the one who‛d always understood Naruto best of all. She shuddered as her eyes landed on Sai again. Oh Sai, who had truly lost the most.

He was the one who had asked her to make the speech at the funeral instead, finding himself unable to put any words to what had happened. But this was Naruto. For him, she could do it, she could do anything.

Her voice softened. "The world became a much brighter place when Naruto entered it and he left us in a place with a blindingly bright future. Because of this, I know Naruto couldn‛t have been happier."

With her last words, she reclaimed her place in the crowd between Iruka and Sai. She heard a sob from her right. "A child is never supposed to die before the father," Iruka said, almost hysterical, Kakashi comforting him dolefully.

Turning to Sai, she pulled him to her in an strong embrace. He looked so lost, as did many, all of those who‛d shown up today, those Naruto had changed. She didn‛t quite know how they would get through this. But with Naruto‛s persistent smile present in her mind, she knew they would.


Author's Notes: Does anyone else find it incredibly sad that I find it easier to write sad stories than I do happy ones?? At any rate, please leave a review letting me know what you thought. Thanks!!